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Lawsuit alleges Obamacare plan-switching scheme targeted low-income consumers

Julie Appleby, KFF Health News, KFF Health News on

Published in News & Features

One of the plaintiffs, Texas resident Conswallo Turner, signed up for ACA coverage in December through an agent she knew, and expected it to go into effect on Jan. 1, according to the lawsuit. Not long after, Turner saw an ad on Facebook promising a monthly cash card to help with household expenses.

She called the number on the ad and provided her name, date of birth, and state, the lawsuit says. Armed with that information, sales agents then changed her ACA coverage and the agent listed on it five times in just a few weeks, dropping coverage of her son along with way, all without her consent.

She ended up with a higher-deductible plan along with medical bills for her now-uninsured son, the lawsuit alleges. Her actual agent also lost the commission.

The lawsuit contains similar stories from other plaintiffs.

The routine worked, it alleges, by collecting names of people responding to online and social media ads claiming to offer monthly subsidies to help with rent or groceries. Those calls were recorded, the suit alleges, and the callers’ information obtained by TrueCoverage and Enhance Health.

The companies knew people were calling on the promise “of cash benefits that do not exist,” the lawsuit said. Instead, call center agents were encouraged to be “vague” about the money mentioned in the ads, which was actually the subsidies paid by the government to insurers toward the ACA plans.


The effort targeted people with low enough incomes to qualify for large subsidies that fully offset the monthly cost of their premium, the lawsuit alleges. The push began after March 2022, when a special enrollment period for low-income people became available, opening up a year-round opportunity to enroll in an ACA plan.

The suit asserts that those involved did not meet the privacy and security rules required for participation in the ACA marketplace. The lawsuit also alleges violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO.

“Health insurance is important for people to have, but it’s also important to be sold properly,” said Doss, who said both consumers and legitimate agents can suffer when it’s not.

“It’s not a victimless crime to get zero-dollar health insurance if you don’t qualify for it and it ends up causing you tax or other problems down the road,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s so much fraud that legitimate agents who are really trying to help people are also being pushed out.”

©2024 KFF Health News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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